I don’t normally post on a Friday; I usually stick to a Monday through Thursday schedule. But today is the exception to the rule. A brilliant and wonderful poet has died today and he will be sorely missed. Seamus Heaney, an Irish poet, he had won the Nobel prize in 1995 for his poetry and I picked up his book “Seeing Things” just to see what he was made of.
I found wonderful, whimsical poetry, that was gentle and magic filled. It was vivid landscapes that filled your entire mind and made you think interesting thoughts. He reveled in slog and mud-filled pastoral and gave it its own sort of humble dignity.
I’m very sad to lose him and hope that there will be many who will be inspired by his work for many generations to come.
by Seamus Heaney
‘That heavy greeness fostered by water’
At school I loved one picture’s heavy greeness –
Horizons rigged with windmills’ arms and sails.
The millhouses’ still outlines. Their in-placeness
Still more in place when mirrored in canals.
I can’t remember never having known
The immanent hydraulics of a land
Of glar and glit and floods at dailigone.
My silting hope. My lowlands of the mind.
Heaviness of being. And poetry
Sluggish in the doldrums of what happens.
Me waiting until I was nearly fifty
To credit marvels. Like the tree-clock of tin cans
The tinkers made. So long for air to brighten,
Time to be dazzled and the heart to lighten.
I thought that I would post a second poem this one seemed apropos.
The Sounds of Rain
by Seamus Heaney
in memoriam Richard Ellman
An all-night drubbing overflow on boards
On the verandah. I dwelt without thinking
In the long moil of it, and then came to
To dripping eaves and light, saying into myself
Proven, weightless sayings of the dead.
Things like He’ll be missed and You’ll have to thole.
It could have been the drenched weedy gardens
Of Peredelkino: a reverie
Of looking out from late-winter gloom
Lit by tangerines and the clear of vodka,
Where Pasternak, lenient yet austere,
Answered for himself without insistence.
‘I had the feeling of an immense debt,’
He said (it is recorded). ‘So many years
Just writing lyric poetry and translating.
I felt there was some duty… Time was passing.
And with all its faults, it has more value
Than those early… It is richer, more humane.’
Or it could have been the thaw and puddles
Of Athens Street where William Alfred stood
On the wet doorstep, remembering the friend
Who died at sixty. ‘After “Summer Tines”
There would have been a deepening, you know,
Something ampler… Ah well. Good night again.’
There eaves a water-fringe and steady lash
Of summer downpour: You are steeped in luck,
I hear them say, Steeped, steeped, steeped in luck.
And hear the flood too, gathering from under,
Biding and boding like a masterwork
Or a named name that overbrims itself.
Ah, well, good night, good poet.